Malaysia: “Sad scene” at abandoned migrant camps

sources by ;http://www.cbsnews.com/news/malaysia-graves-burma-rohingya-migrant-camps-abandoned-by-traffickers/

A refugee from Bangladesh, who was rescued by the Burmese navy, is seen at a Muslim religious school used as a temporary refugee camp, at the Aletankyaw village in the Maungdaw township, in Rakhine state, Burma, May 23, 2015. REUTERS

WANG KELIAN, Malaysia — Malaysian authorities said Monday they have discovered 139 suspected graves in a series of abandoned camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand where Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma were believed to have been held.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that a sweep of the hilly, jungle area found at least 28 camps along a 30-mile stretch of the border. At one of the camps, police found “a highly decomposed body” that would be examined by forensics experts as teams began the work of excavating the areas believed to be graves.

“It is a very sad scene,” Abu Bakar told reporters in northern Perlis state at a police outpost several miles from the suspected camps, some of which he said appeared to have been abandoned two to three weeks ago.

“We have discovered 139 of what we believe to be graves,” he said, describing them mostly as mounds of earth, covered by leaves and marked by sticks. “Forensics teams have gone in to exhume any remains.”

“We accept that there are syndicates involved in this and their main aim is for monetary gains,” he said. “We will investigate, and we will not condone anyone, including Malaysian officials.”

The finding follows a similar discovery earlier this month by police in Thailand who unearthed dozens of bodies from shallow graves on the Thai side of the border. The grim discoveries are shedding new light on the hidden network of jungle camps run by traffickers, who have for years held countless desperate people captive while extorting ransoms from their families.

Rescue workers carry a body uncovered at the site of a mass grave at an abandoned jungle camp in the Sadao district of Thailand's southern Songkhla province bordering Malaysia
Rescue workers carry a body uncovered at the site of a mass grave at an abandoned jungle camp in the Sadao district of Thailand’s southern Songkhla province bordering Malaysia, May 1, 2015.
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Most of those who have fallen victim to the trafficking networks are refugees and impoverished migrants from Burma and Bangladesh, part of a wave of people who have fled their homelands by sea on over-crowded, rickety boats to reach countries like Malaysia, where they hope to find work or live free from persecution.

Thousands of the so-called “boat people” are from the minority Rohingya community in Burma, or Myanmar, as it is also known.

The Rohingya, numbering around 1.3 million in Burma, have been called one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Long denied basic rights, they have been driven from their homes in mob attacks in Myanmar’s Rakhine state several times since 2012.

More than 140,000 were displaced and are now living under apartheid-like conditions in crowded camps. More than 100,000 others have fled by sea.

CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker, on assignment for “60 Minutes,” managed to slip into one of the sprawling camps set up by the Burmese government for Rohingyas who have fled their own villages out of fear for their lives.

Whitaker met Abdusalem at one of the camps, which are normally off-limits to journalists. The man told CBS News he and his family had fled their homes about three years ago, at the peak of violent attacks against the Muslim minorities by Burma’s majority Buddhists.

“My family ran to survive,” Abdusalam told Whitaker. “They’re barely surviving now.”

The people stuck in the camps are frightened, hungry and stateless. Rohingya are not considered citizens of Burma.

Matt Smith, a human rights worker documenting conditions in the camps, told CBS News they’re essentially “concentration camps.”

“People are confined in these camps,” said Smith. “They can’t leave these areas.” Their only escape is the risky boat journeys into the unknown.

As Southeast Asian governments have launched crackdowns amid intensified international pressure and media scrutiny, traffickers have abandoned camps on land and boats at sea to avoid arrest.

The graves were found in the northern state of Perlis. The state borders southern Thailand’s Songkhla province, where at least 36 bodies were found earlier this month.

According to the Malay-language Utusan Malaysia newspaper, police found 30 large graves containing hundreds of corpses in mid-May in forests around the Perlis towns of Padang Besar and Wang Kelian.

The English-language Star Online said 100 bodies were found in a single grave in Padang Besar. It said police forensics teams had arrived there Friday night to investigate, and the area had been cordoned off.

Human rights groups and activists say the area on the Thai-Malaysia border has been used for years to smuggle migrants and refugees, including Rohingya Muslims, a persecuted minority in Myanmar.

In many cases, they pay human smugglers thousands of dollars for passage, but are instead held for weeks or months, while traffickers extort more money from families back home. Rights groups say some have been beaten to death, and The Associated Press has documented other cases in which people have been enslaved on fishing boats.

Since May 10 alone, more than 3,600 people — about half of them from Bangladesh and half Rohingya from Burma — have landed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Thousands more are believed to be trapped at sea in boats abandoned by their captains.

Last June, the U.S. downgraded Thailand and Malaysia to Tier 3 — its lowest category — in an annual assessment of how governments handle human trafficking.

On Saturday in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he has been speaking to regional leaders about the crisis and urging them to find a solution.

Malaysia and Indonesia announced last week that they would provide temporary shelter for up to one year for migrants recently found or still stranded at sea. The U.S. has said it will settle some of them permanently.

Four Malaysian navy ships began searching for boats Friday, but their operation is limited to Malaysia’s territorial waters. The Pentagon said Thursday that Washington was readying air patrols to aid in the search, but a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Bangkok said the offer of assistance was still awaiting clearance.

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Malaysia Exhumes Mass Graves At Migrant Traffickers Camp

BUKIT WANG BURMA, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian forensics teams exhumed a body from a shallow grave Tuesday at an abandoned jungle camp used by human traffickers, the first of what police predicted would be more grim findings as they search through a cluster of illicit hideouts near the border with Thailand.

Authorities say there are 139 suspected graves in the mountainous jungle where northern Malaysia meets southern Thailand, a remote area that trafficking syndicates used as a transit point to hold migrants and refugees. Most were believed to be members of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority and impoverished migrants from Bangladesh.

“Forensics teams have found one human body so far,” said Mohammad Bahar Alias, a senior police official from northern Perlis state. Digging continued at other graves, which police said were marked by sticks or stones. “There are graves all over this area.”

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Malaysian police took journalists to one of 28 abandoned camps found after a regional crackdown was launched on human trafficking earlier this month.

The camp, reached after a 2-hour hike up a steep jungle path, appeared to have been abandoned a while ago, police said. A jungle prison remained that included at least two large wooden pens wrapped with barbed wire.

“These structures were believed to be used as human cages,” said Mohammad Bahar. He said the camp may have held up to 300 people. It also contained a watch tower and a cooking area littered with dishes and pots. During the tour, authorities pointed out what looked like the skeletal remains of a jaw on the ground.

“We think it belongs to a human,” said Mohammad Bahar.

A tiny orange slipper was partly buried on a nearby slope, indicating that children were also held at the camp, which could hold at least 300 people, he said. A suspected grave site was about 100 meters (100 yards) away.

The discoveries in the northern Malaysian state of Perlis follow similar revelations earlier this month in Thailand, where police unearthed dozens of bodies from shallow graves on the Thai side of the border. Thai police Maj. Gen. Puthichart Ekkachan said 36 bodies were found there in seven abandoned camps.

The discoveries have exposed hidden networks of jungle camps run by human smugglers, who have for years held countless desperate people captive while extorting ransoms from their families. Most of the victims were part of a wave of people who fled their homelands to reach countries like Malaysia, where they hoped to find work or live freely.

Malaysian Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said police are probing the possibility that government officials, including some from the Forestry Department, may be involved in the human trafficking syndicates.

He said several people have been detained and are under investigation, but didn’t provide further details.

As Southeast Asian governments have launched crackdowns in recent weeks amid intensified international pressure and media scrutiny, traffickers have abandoned their camps and boats at sea to avoid arrest.

This month, more than 3,000 people — about half of them from Bangladesh and half Rohingya from Myanmar — have landed in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Thousands more are believed to be trapped at sea in boats abandoned by their captains.

Human rights groups and activists say the area along the Thai-Malaysia border has been used for years to smuggle migrants and refugees, including Rohingya Muslims, a long-persecuted minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.

In many cases, they pay human smugglers thousands of dollars for passage, but are instead held for weeks or months while traffickers extort more money from their families back home. Rights groups say some have been beaten to death, and The Associated Press has documented other cases in which people have been enslaved on fishing boats.

Malaysia and Indonesia announced last week that they would provide shelter for up to one year for migrants recently found or still stranded at sea. The U.S. has said it would consider settling some of them permanently.

For the rescue effort, the United States said it has begun military surveillance flights and is ready to conduct more as needed to help locate boats of migrants in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. U.S. Navy P8 aircraft began flying over the weekend with Malaysian government support, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said.

Thailand on Tuesday joined Malaysia and Indonesia in launching naval patrols of its territorial waters, saying it will open a “floating base” near its maritime border with Myanmar where migrants in need of medical assistance can receive treatment at sea. The operation, which includes seven naval ships and eight aircraft for aerial searches, will run initially for two weeks, said Supreme Commander Gen. Worapong Sa-nganetr.

The Rohingya, numbering around 1.3 million in Myanmar, have been called one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Long denied basic rights, they have been driven from their homes in mob attacks in Myanmar’s Rakhine state several times since 2012.

More than 140,000 were displaced and are now living under apartheid-like conditions in crowded camps. More than 100,000 others have fled by sea.

___

Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

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Malaysia mass graves: villagers tell of migrants emerging from secret jungle camps

Malaysia mass graves: villagers tell of migrants emerging from secret jungle camps

Residents on the border village of Wang Kelian fear the worst as they reveal stories of desperate migrants who stumbled into their midst

Malaysian police stand guard at the Malaysia-Thailand border in Wang Kelian.
Malaysian police stand guard at the Malaysia-Thailand border in Wang Kelian. Photograph: Joshua Paul/AP

The residents of Wang Kelian sensed something was amiss when a number of people stumbled on to their streets, weak and injured, and began to beg for food and water.

“They would walk into my shop, with injuries covering their hands and feet. Some were just too weak to even speak properly,” said Lyza Ibrahim, who runs a food stall in the town on the northern Malaysian border with Thailand.

“One asked me, ‘[Is this] Malaysia?’ Then he pointed in the other direction, said ‘Thailand’ and shook his head to signal that he was not wanted there.”

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Malaysian police exhume remains from suspected migrant grave – video

Wang Kelian is an unassuming settlement but it has been thrust into the global spotlight this week after the discovery in nearby jungle of dozens of secret camps used by people smugglers and nearly 140 grave sites.

Police say some of those graves contain multiple bodies – raising the terrible prospect of hundreds of unexplained deaths. On Tuesday Malaysian authorities began the grim task of exhumation.

Some of the campsites included wooden pens, some with barbed wire and guarded by sentry posts. In one pen, police found several parts of a decomposed body.

A picture from Royal Malaysian Police shows an abandoned human trafficking camp where graves were found nearby, close to the border with Thailand at Wang Kelian, Malaysia.

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An abandoned human trafficking camp. Graves were found nearby, close to the border with Thailand at Wang Kelian, Malaysia. Photograph: Royal Malaysian police/EPA

The camps appear to be part of a complex of bases stretching into Thailand on what had been a well-established route smuggling mostly Rohingya people from Burma and Bangladesh.

But the trade has been in chaos since early May, when Thai authorities launched a crackdown after the discovery of mass graves on their side of the border.

Thousands of migrants headed for Thailand started landing elsewhere in south-east Asia. And as the smugglers fled their jungle hideouts, migrants were spotted in Wang Kelian.

Ibrahim said she had seen several migrants, whom she believed to be Rohingya, and heard stories about many others, including that they would go to a nearby mosque to ask for help.

Alleged Rohingya mass grave found in Perlis, says report

Participants pretending to be dead Rohingya refugees at a solidary drive in Esplande, George Town, last week. A mass grave believed to contain the bodies of some 100 Rohingya migrants had been found in Padang Besar, Perlis. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 24, 2015. Participants pretending to be dead Rohingya refugees at a solidary drive in Esplande, George Town, last week. A mass grave believed to contain the bodies of some 100 Rohingya migrants had been found in Padang Besar, Perlis. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 24, 2015.

sources by – See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/alleged-rohingya-mass-grave-found-in-perlis-say-report#sthash.6wuPsA53.dpuf

 

A mass grave believed to contain the bodies of some 100 Rohingya migrants had been found in Padang Besar, Perlis, said English-language daily The Star.

Quoting sources, the daily said police teams from its headquarters in Bukit Aman was at the scene since Friday evening.

It said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar was expected to hold a press conference on the matter tomorrow.

“So far, no details are available as it is believed police are in the middle of conducting the operation,” the daily quoted a source as saying.An unnamed police officer from the district police headquarters told The Star the mass grave was located in a restricted area and is inaccessible to the public.

“The place has been cordoned off and it is located at a hilly site,” he said.

A villager in the northern town bordering Thailand said there was a possibility a mass grave was found.

“The Rohingya people can die anywhere and not only in Thailand. You cannot choose the place where you want to die,” the unnamed villager was quoted as saying.

Checks by The Star showed that things were normal at Padang Besar.

The only exception was the presence of a few police four-wheel drive vehicles and marked police cars parked in front of food stalls.

Earlier this month, the Home Ministry denied reports claiming the existence of holding camps and mass graves of illegal ethnic Rohingya migrants on the Malaysian side of its border with Thailand.

Its secretary-general, Datuk Alwi Ibrahim, said investigations carried out by the police found no such camps or graves in Malaysia.

After the discovery of “death camps” in southern Thailand, there have been news reports saying that there might be similar slave camps housing illegal immigrants on the Malaysian side of the border.

More than 1.3 million Rohingya – viewed by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities – live in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.

Fleeing persecution, these refugees usually make their way to Malaysia on rickety boats via people smugglers.

After coming under fire for turning away refugees adrift at seas after being abandoned by the smugglers following a crackdown by Thai police on the normal smuggling routes, Malaysia together with Indonesia on May 20 announced that they would no longer turn away boatpeople.

Myanmar also softened its line on the issue, offering to help provide humanitarian assistance to stricken migrants. – May 24, 2015.

– See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/alleged-rohingya-mass-grave-found-in-perlis-say-report#sthash.6wuPsA53.dpuf

Mass graves of Rohingya, Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia’s forests: report

sources by : http://www.smh.com.au/world/mass-graves-of-rohingya-bangladeshi-migrants-in-malaysias-forests-report-20150524-gh8exe.html
May 24, 2015
A Rohingya child, who arrived in Indonesia this week by boat, receives medical treatment for an eye infection at a temporary shelter near Langsa in Indonesia's Aceh Province.A Rohingya child, who arrived in Indonesia this week by boat, receives medical treatment for an eye infection at a temporary shelter near Langsa in Indonesia’s Aceh Province. Photo: Reuters

Bangkok: Malaysian authorities have reportedly discovered 30 mass graves believed to contain the bodies of hundreds of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis near Malaysia’s border with Thailand.

The shock find follows the discovery of similar mass graves in Thailand early in May, which prompted Thai authorities to crack down on human trafficking networks.

A refugee from Bangladesh rescued by the Myanmar navy is seen at a Muslim religious school used as a temporary refugee camp at Maungdaw township in Rakhine state, Myanmar.A refugee from Bangladesh rescued by the Myanmar navy is seen at a Muslim religious school used as a temporary refugee camp at Maungdaw township in Rakhine state, Myanmar. Photo: Reuters

Malaysia has previously denied that people smuggler camps or graves were located on its territory, the destination of choice for tens of thousands of Rohingyas fleeing persecution in Myanmar that has prompted a humanitarian crisis across the Bay of Bengal and in South-east Asian waters.

The Mingguan Malaysia newspaper reported that graves were found in mid-May in forests in Padang Besar and Wang Kelian, but the government in Kuala Lumpur did not announce the discoveries.

The newspaper also reported that several foreigners and local villagers had been arrested under anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling laws.

Rohingya migrants at a temporary shelter  near Langsa in Indonesia's Aceh Province.Rohingya migrants at a temporary shelter near Langsa in Indonesia’s Aceh Province. Photo: Reuters

For years Malaysia has quietly allowed tens of thousands of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis who had been smuggled into the country by human traffickers to work as cheap labour. Many had been held in jungle camps and in boats at sea while traffickers demanded ransoms from their families.

Thailand’s crackdown forced traffickers to abandon their human cargo, leaving thousands stranded at sea as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia pushed their boats back from their shores.

But Malaysia and Indonesia last week reversed their policy amid international outrage over the plight of the migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom were starving and in need of urgent medical attention.

Rohingya women and children register at a confinement area for migrants at Bayeun, Aceh province, IndonesiaRohingya women and children register at a confinement area for migrants at Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia Photo: AFP

Late last week Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered his navy and coast guard to comb the sea looking for up to 6000 people still stranded.

Malaysia has also agreed to attend a Thai-hosted summit of regional nations, including Australia, to discuss the crisis next Friday.

South-east Asian nations will be under pressure to set up temporary camps to shelter the migrants. The United States has said it would help build the camps and resettle some of the migrants.

A Rohingya child prepares to take a shower at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia on Saturday.A Rohingya child prepares to take a shower at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia on Saturday. Photo: AP

But Thailand’s military government, which treats Rohingyas and Bangladeshis as illegal immigrants and jails them, has said it is worried that establishing camps will cause more people to flee Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Armed Forces have rejected a US request to use the Thai resort island of Phuket as a maritime patrol base to assist Rohingya migrants, the Sunday Bangkok Post reports.

The Post quoted an unnamed source saying the rejection reflects Thai irritation over US pressure to resolve human trafficking problems.

Since early May Thailand has arrested 46 people, many of them local politicians and officials, on human trafficking charges and have issued warrants for the arrest of 77 more suspects.

Mass graves of Rohingya Muslim migrants found in abandoned jungle camps in Malaysia

‘These graves are believed to be a part of human trafficking activities’

Malaysian police have discovered mass graves in more than a dozen abandoned camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand, where Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar have been held.

“These graves are believed to be a part of human trafficking activities involving migrants,” Home Minister Zahid Hamidi told reporters.

He did not say how many bodies have been recovered.

The Malaysian newspaper The Star has reported that as many as 100 bodies were found at one camp.

Similar camps and dozens of remains were recovered in jungle camps across the border in Thailand earlier this month, where Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar had been held by traffickers until their families could pay for their freedom.

The migrants and refugees who have fallen victim to the traffickers are from Myanmar and Bangladesh, part of a wave of people who have fled their homeland in hopes of reaching countries like Malaysia where they hope to find work.

More than 3,600 people – about half of them from Bangladesh and the others minority Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar – have landed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand since May 10, and thousands more are believed to be trapped at sea, some in boats abandoned by traffickers amid a regional crackdown.

Mr Hamidi told reporters that police were trying to identify and verify “the mass graves that were found”.

Police have found 17 abandoned camps that they believe were used by traffickers.

Authorities say they have known for years that the area on the Thai-Malaysia border was used to smuggle Rohingya Muslims, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, as well as Bangladeshis and other migrants, to third countries including Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim.

The graves discovered in Thailand earlier this month were mostly in southern Songkla province.

Malaysia mass graves: Is the Burmese Rohingya minority being trafficked by force?

Malaysia mass graves: Is the Burmese Rohingya minority being trafficked by force?

At the trafficking camp in northern Malaysia where at least 139 shallow graves have been discovered, a police chief said that personal possessions abandoned at the camp included a pink teddy bear and children’s sandals. If the Rohingya and Bangladeshis travelling from the Bay of Bengal to Malaysia were fleeing in search of work, why did they bring small children with them?

One explanation has emerged in Burma this week: many of those who made the journey did so against their will – tricked by middlemen, press-ganged by brokers and taken to sea by force.

Others including children were simply kidnapped. One of the missing is 16-year-old “Rayzuharnar”, who lived with her family in Dar Paing camp north of Sittwe, the capital of Burma’s Rakhine state. This is one of the state’s notorious camps for “internal displaced people” into which Muslims were herded after the communal violence of 2012.

One Friday, over a month ago, her siblings left her at home when they went to attend the local mosque. “When we came back around 4pm, she was gone,” said her brother, Marmuh Hanson, 20. She had simply vanished.

At the trafficking camp in northern Malaysia where at least 139 shallow graves have been discovered, a police chief said that personal possessions abandoned at the camp included a pink teddy bear and children’s sandals. If the Rohingya and Bangladeshis travelling from the Bay of Bengal to Malaysia were fleeing in search of work, why did they bring small children with them?

One explanation has emerged in Burma this week: many of those who made the journey did so against their will – tricked by middlemen, press-ganged by brokers and taken to sea by force.

Others including children were simply kidnapped. One of the missing is 16-year-old “Rayzuharnar”, who lived with her family in Dar Paing camp north of Sittwe, the capital of Burma’s Rakhine state. This is one of the state’s notorious camps for “internal displaced people” into which Muslims were herded after the communal violence of 2012.

One Friday, over a month ago, her siblings left her at home when they went to attend the local mosque. “When we came back around 4pm, she was gone,” said her brother, Marmuh Hanson, 20. She had simply vanished.

Burmese Navy rescues boatpeople- hides Rohingya and show only Bengali

Burmese Navy rescues boatpeople- hides Rohingya and show only Bengali.

Asean, UN urged to face Myanmar and resolve migrant issue

PETALING JAYA: Asean and the United Nations must face the Myanmar government to resolve the influx of Rohingya migrants and asylum seekers from Myanmar and Bangladeshis into Southeast Asian waters at this very critical time.

In making the call, Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (MERHROM) president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani said if they fail to do so, the world will continue to see Rohingya boat people risking their lives to seek refuge in other countries.

He said in a statement that MERHROM is frustrated with the United Nations High Commissioner…

 

sources by ; http://www.nigerianherald.com/news/asean-un-urged-to-face-myanmar-and-resolve-migrant-issue

Asean, UN urged to face Myanmar and resolve migrant issue

PETALING JAYA: Asean and the United Nations must face the Myanmar government to resolve the influx of Rohingya migrants and asylum seekers from Myanmar and Bangladeshis into Southeast Asian waters at this very critical time.

In making the call, Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (MERHROM) president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani said if they fail to do so, the world will continue to see Rohingya boat people risking their lives to seek refuge in other countries.

He said in a statement that MERHROM is frustrated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as they have been very quiet during this critical moment.

MERHROM also urged Asean governments to rescue the boat people and give them treatment.

“Asean and the UN must continuously pressure the Myanmar government to stop presecutions on ethnic Rohingya and recognised them as citizens under the 1982 Citizenship Law,” he said.

MERHROM also called on the UNHCR to hold a meeting with the governments of Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia on the documentation process for these boat people.

The statement said from January to March, 25,000 ethnic Rohingya and Bangladeshis had became boat people.

He said the UN must play a vital role to stop this genocide and economic and political sanctions placed on Myanmar to compel it to put a stop to the problem.

sources by ;http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1422488

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